When Hearts Standard caught up with Clevid Dikamona it was only a few days after he had been at French giants Lyon, having just agreed a new deal for one of his clients through his HEWGO Sport agency.

“I think I helped him a lot, especially mentally to explain how you need to be to become a professional player because he has the quality,” he said of Haktan Sener, a teenage midfielder who has attracted attention from Braga and Bologna. “I was there to give him the right way to improve his football. In the last six months he was unbelievable when he played so we negotiated with Lyon to give him a contract to show Lyon trust him and he gets what he deserves because he worked hard.”

It was a busy summer for the former defender who was a popular personality during his time with Heart of Midlothian. Packed schedules, travelling around France, meeting players, talking to clubs. The life of an agent.

Close to a Hearts deal

It was also a summer which neary brought him back to Tynecastle and a reunion with former Hearts team-mate Steven Naismith. If things had turned out differently we could have easily been discussing another player Dikamona represents if a move to Gorgie had materialised following discussions with sporting director Joe Savage and Naismith.

“I was very, very close on one deal this summer with them,” he said, ensuring not to reveal the name of the player, “but the club of the player decided something else. There is not only the wish of the manager or player, but the player is under contract. We need to satisfy the club who have the player. Sometimes it is not easy to do. Trust me, even me, I am more than disappointed. I would have been so happy to do it. Just to come back to Tynecastle and say ‘this player, he’s my player’.”

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Across two years since stepping away from the professional game following a departure from Kilmarnock, Dikamona’s agency has built up a portfolio of between 15 and 20 players, many of whom operate in the French leagues. He is well placed to discuss the complexities involved in getting a transfer deal over the line.

“You need to make sure everyone is happy to make sure the transfer goes through,” he said. “That is the job of the agent. In the transfer there are so many things which people don’t know that can make it so difficult. Even to explain it… I’m not sure my English is good enough to explain it because it is really, really hard. Trust me.”

The agent life

The agency has grown to the point he is with his phone “23 hours of the day!” during the transfer window. He quickly realised he had to abandon driving around France to meet with players and clubs, opting for the train or a plane to allow him to continue to work. 

The former Congolese international wanted to stay in football when his playing career came to an end. At only 33, he wanted to provide his family with stability, a decision made following the period where Covid impacted football. Towards the end of his career he used lawyers and his younger brother to deal with his contracts but he found the “best way” to remain in the game at the highest level and “stay close to the players and to the people working inside clubs” was to become an agent. As a hugely personable figure, he can build relationships and a rapport with players and clubs easily, while using his experiences playing in France, Greece, Israel and the UK to help players.

“I think I am an easy guy to talk with,” Dikamona said. “I think because people trusted me as a player, they trust me now as an agent, both players and clubs. It helps a lot in my new career. I’m just trying to stay the guy I was as a player because it is me, not someone else. It helps a lot.

“It is easy for me to give my experiences to the players because I played at every level. When I was 16 when I started to play with adults, when you play with the reserves in France you play in the fourth division. I was in England playing League Two. I played in the second division in France. Top division in Scotland and Greece. When I was young I played for the French national team then played for the Congolese team.

“The only level I didn’t reach was the Champions League, this kind of level. That is the only level as an agent I wouldn’t be able to say to a player you need to be like this, this or this. For the older players it is going to be fine because I used to play at every level so it is easy for me to let them know that there will be good times, bad times but during your bad times you need to be like this to get back to your good time.

“At the beginning I tried to only work with young players, giving me time to build my agency, to get more experience in this game. Thank God, I chose the right players."

Family agency

Choosing the right players is important to Dikamona. He wants to have a “family-sized agency” without hoovering up players for the sake of it. There is a deliberation and consideration of who he works with, valuing the relationship beyond simply a contract.

“There are a lot of agents who just sign players,” he said. “They maybe have 50-100 players under contract with them. I don’t want to see myself and the agency like that, I want to be the kind of agent who has a relationship with the player. Not only a contractual relationship.

“If I am working with a young left-back who is 16 years old, I don’t want to work with another left-back who is 16 years old because, for me, it doesn’t make sense to have two players at the same age in the same position.

“I think that is a strength, when I meet a player I say ‘I decide to work with you because I want to be at your back, not 50 per cent, I want to be 2000 per cent’. If a club asks me for a left-back born in 2006, I know that I have only one player in this kind of category so I will be able to fight for him with all my strength. Not ‘I have this guy, this guy and this guy’ and sell them all to the club and the club decide. No, no, no. I think this is something which helps me convince players to work with me. If I am working with him, I am the only one like me who he will be able to propose to the club.

“When you have a young player you need to build a career, you need to make sure the buzz of his career is good. When the player is already playing with the first team it is different, the target is different. Maybe it is to get more money, to play at the highest level, to get trophies. I don’t want to have the same profile in my agency. Sometimes I would like to say yes to make more money like everyone else but I say to myself ‘if I take this one, I have lied to the previous one’.”

Hearts Standard:

Loic relationship

One of the players on his book is former Hearts midfielder Loic Damour, currently plying his trade in the French third tier. 

“The target for Loic was to get back in France and be close to his family and we’ve done well," Dikamona explained. "It was not an easy thing to do because he was on a lot of money when he was at Hearts. I found a way to make sure everyone was happy, Hearts, Loic and his family.

“He is playing at a good level, getting his money and living 20 minutes from his home. Each player is different and has different targets. My job is to make sure they get what they want in the end.

“Loic is happy at the moment, he’s 32, he’s not a young player, he’s starting to get old! He’s thinking about what is going to be happening after his career now. I’m helping him for that and there is a good relationship between me and him.”

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Dikamona gives his view on why Damour’s move to Tynecastle Park didn’t work out. He arrived from Cardiff City having helped the Bluebirds win promotion to the Premier League but then he barely featured in the English top flight. Despite penning a four-year deal, he would make just 21 appearances for Hearts.

“I don’t know if he came at the right moment because we were not in a good time,” he said. “It was a bit difficult for Hearts as a team, not only for him. Also there wasn’t the time to fit into the team, he went straight into the team. He was at Cardiff in the Premier League but he barely played for a year. He signed for Hearts and the manager put him straight into the team at a moment we weren’t in a good run so it’s not easy for players. I understood why the manager did that because he was expecting a lot from Loic, it’s normal. For a manager it is not easy to take care of the individual and the team.”

For Dikamona it is now his role to take care of the individual and one he is thriving in.